A number of artists are now expounding rather than exploiting the differences that disability and impairment can offer, encouraging all of us to view beauty differently and to revel in the fact that we are, after all, astonishing. Jo Verrent explores
2 September 2011
Claire Cunningham is a multi-disciplinary performer and choreographer based in Glasgow; she is also dancer who uses her crutches and her own physicality to intense dramatic and emotional effect.
"At one point she seems to be a giant helpless insect and shortly after a powerful, skyward reaching Ikarus. Her very authentic performance Evolution, lets the watcher feel once more and very clearly the limitations of hasty preconceptions and collective thinking. Claire Cunningham shows with impressive power and mobility, with earnestness and wonderful humor, not only her very much agile body… her technique to play with the weight shifts and reach of her crutches is a choreographic statement that speaks for itself"
Having begun as a classically trained singer, Claire gained a Creative Scotland Award in 2006 that gave her space and time to investigate and develop a new movement vocabulary, specific and unique to her own physicality and virtuosity. She took the time to explore her use of crutches, of balance and weight bearing (including time training with ‘crutchmaster’ Bill Shannon). She also took time to explore her own identity as both a disabled person and as a dancer, moving on to create work that is rich, layered and humorous as well as thought provoking and moving. Her work has rapidly gained a strong following, leading to international tours, ovations and has served to widen the debate around the very notion of what dance is.